Thursday, April 16, 2015

Behold the Glory

There is some terrifying imagery in the Bible that is so bizarre that most of us tend to read right by it. It's in, at least, both Ezekiel and Revelation. And of all things, this terrifying imagery is the description of...the heavenly beings.

We have our own ideas of angels and demons. Angels are beautiful creatures, clothed in flowing white robes, heads encircled by halos. They are pleasant, smiling, and playing beautiful music for us. There's a certain..glow about them. Demons, of course, are darker, clothed in red with eyes of fire and vicious sneers. But that's not what these prophets say we'll see.

What they say is that the heavenly beings, and the good heavenly beings at that, are creatures covered in eyeballs. Eyes over every inch of their bodies. Other creepy features, too, like wheels for feet. But it's the eyes that get me. Not to make a bad pun, but what a sight that must be to see.

As I read this description again in Revelation recently, I couldn't help but stop and really think about this. What is it about the eyes? And I think it's this:

All the better to see Him with.

My eyes, they've seen a lot of things down here on earth. Yours probably have, too. But me and you? We're limited to just the two. We can see pretty much what is right in front of us, maybe a little bit off to each side. But that's about all. We've seen a lot of bad things, a lot of broken things. We've seen our share of ugly things. But we've seen a number of beautiful things, too. We've seen some of the glorious things.

I think about what it's like to stand outside under the stars and take in the night sky. It's one of the most incredible feelings in the world to me, feeling at once both the infinite nature of God and the finite nature of self. I think about what it's like to stand on the edge of the ocean and feel some of the same things. I think about taking in the sights and sounds of the thunderstorm, how sometimes if I turn just right after the rain passes through, I can see the rainbow - still a sign of His promise. And all this, I'm seeing with just my two eyes. Just two little eyes on the front of my head, focused on only one thing at a time. Able to see only what I'm looking at.

These heavenly beings, these creatures covered with eyes, they can see much more than you or I can. They can see it all at once. They can see the entire night sky and the foundations of the earth in the same moment. They can look out across the ocean and the land all at once. They see what lies before them and what lies behind them, and under them and over them and all around them in a single blink. They can see the storm and the rainbow in one breathtaking view, without ever turning around. I...can't even imagine.

And then I can't help but not imagine. I can't help but dare hope. Because surrounded by the glory of God the way these creatures are, I think I'd want that, too. I think I'd want to see it all. All at once. And just be enveloped by all this incredible...God-ness that there is to see. I think you need at least a thousand eyes.

And I don't think it'd be as scary as it seems when Ezekiel or John talks about it. I always read these verses, these stories, and thought how terrifying it must be to see a creature that's nothing but eyes. But now, I'm not so sure.

Because I've looked into the eyes of a child when he sees something so incredible he just can't turn away from it, when that little spark of discovery hits his eyes for the first time. I think his eyes give it away even more than his smile does. Just those brief little glimpses into these changes the way I think about these creatures. Hundreds of eyes, all at once, beholding the full glory of Christ from every angle...I think they'll have that same look about them. That energy, that joy that just can't turn away. That awe, that amazement that just betrays the excitement they can't hold back.

I think...I think I'll look at those eyes one day, every square inch of them, and I'll know in that moment what glory really is. I'll know what it's like to truly see God. I can only imagine....

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